Everything sucked in 2017 except video games.
Insane amounts of GREAT video games came out in 2017. 2007 has been forever considered the golden year for iconic video game releases (Bioshock, Rock Band, Assassins Creed, COD4 Modern Warfare, Halo 3, to name a few). It’s only fitting that a decade later it is finally in my mind, officially dethroned. 2017 has taken the crown. Lord knows it couldn’t have come at a better time.
One of my goals for 2017 was to keep a spreadsheet of every single video game I played this year, including system (mobile included) and if I beat it or not (or marked as “NA”, meaning it doesn’t have a clear-cut ending. For example, Overwatch or Rocket League). The rules are that I needed to play it for more than 10 minutes, and it didn’t matter if it came out in 2017 or not. Here’s the results:
In 2017, I played 71 different video games. I completed 10 of them. I still have yet to beat 21 of them. The other 40 are N/A.
That tells me what I’ve always known. I like to game-hop, play as much as possible, and I’ll get around to beating stuff at some point. For what it’s worth, some of these I’ve beaten in the past, but I’m playing them on a new console (IE: Doom on PC this year, or Kingdom Hearts 1 on PS4). But still, I have 21 unfinished goddamn games.
I played most of my games on PC this year (a first), with 23. Followed by the Xbox One at 16, Switch and Mobile tied at 11, and PS4 with the remaining 10.
This year was so good that I have NINE games I want to shoutout in honorable mentions. I’m just going to name them besides the first one. The first one is the Nintendo Switch console as a whole. Nintendo had an absolutely killer year, and it starts with the Switch. I’ve always been “whatever” on Nintendo, as nothing could ever top my childhood memories of the Nintendo 64. But this year Nintendo changed all of that, putting out a phenomenal console with phenomenal games. It runs everything great, and the power of portability has directly influenced my game purchasing decisions. It’s both a AAA and an indie game dream, and it’s where I want to buy as much as possible specifically because I can take it on the go or play it on my couch with something on the TV. Its first party titles blew the world away (more on that below), and it’s made me love Nintendo again for the first time since Nintendo 64. It feels like they’re taking risks again, and that’s the Nintendo I want. If you don’t own a Switch, I can’t even begin to explain how much you’re missing out on. Just buy one, you idiot.
My honorable mentions this year are Resident Evil 7, Prey, Heat Signature, Nier Automata, Splatoon 2, Middle Earth Shadow of War, Evil Within 2, Ghost Recon Wildlands, and Golf Story.
Real quick, games that I revisited in 2017 that I want to keep playing in 2018:
The Witcher 3 (I’ll beat that in like 2021), SWAT 4 (IT’S STILL SO GOOD), GTA V Online, HITMAN, Rainbow Six Siege. I’m still heavy into Overwatch and blown away with their community/dev team and the forthcoming Overwatch League. It’s the eSports league I’ve always wanted. (Shoutout to Boston Uprising) Most of my pals have found their game-as-a-service of choice, mainly MOBAs, and as someone who can’t stand MOBAs it’s nice to finally have my game. And of course, Rocket League. But that’s more a love/hate relationship. It’s real good on Switch, though.
TOP 10 GAMES OF 2017
Wolfenstein II has so many individually insane moments, I can think of five off the top of my head, that it should have its own “Moment of the Year” category. The gameplay is definitely not the most appealing part of the game. It’s actually pretty weak. But the story….holy shit. The story more than makes up for it, and the writing is superb throughout. It’s hard to talk about the game without spoiling almost anything, but my recommendation is put it on easy and coast through it. The ending is extra satisfying. Plus, you get to kill a lot of nazis insanely hard, which always instantly makes a game glorious.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or PUBG as it’s now known quickly took over the entire world in a matter of months. It’s the number one game on Steam. It’s everywhere. It’s now on Xbox, albeit extremly unoptimized and poorly running. It’s chaos, and it’s super fun. 100 players enter, 1 leaves. Initially, I wasn’t too fond of the game, citing similar games that were maybe/maybe not unfair comparisons like H1Z1 or ARMA, but it certainly stands on its own. In my opinion, the game shines with friends. You hear a gunshot in the distance or see a car coming, everybody goes prone. Everybody goes quiet. Communication is vital. It’s made for some of the best gaming memories I’ve had in a while, and certainly some of the most tense. Some day I’ll be rewarded with a glorious chicken dinner but until then, I’m having a ton of fun in the process. Absurd amounts of jank and all.
Mario vs Rabbids is a game that has absolutely no right to exist, let alone turn out as good as it did. It’s a goddamn Mario XCOM! With Ubisoft Rabbids in it! Mario has a gun! Luigi is a sniper, and there’s half-cover tactics. What the fuck? Still, Mario vs Rabbids turned out to be one of my favorites. Somewhat deep RPG-tactics gameplay with a skill tree, beautiful environments, fun enemies, and a great soundtrack from Grant Kirkhope, who is behind the excellent Viva Pinata soundtracks (as well as Goldeneye 007). Don’t sleep on it one bit.
Assassins Creed suffered series fatigue way before they took a year break, but when they finally did, boy did it ever benefit this game. Origins is a beautiful open world adventure with all new combat, and way more. I’m pretty early in, but I’m addicted to it. I’ve never been big on the franchise as a whole, but this one feels almost like The Witcher 3 to me in terms of scope/scale and how much there is to do. The combat almost feels like a Dark Souls game. There’s an arrow you can control in mid-air. Did I mention how good it looks (especially on the Xbox One X)? It also finally just has you sprinting at all times, something more games should finally let you do. Who walks in a video game? Ubisoft has crafted something special here, and I hope they continue to build off of it. I’m excited to keep digging in and see where it goes. Also, best looking water of the year goes to Assassins Creed Origins by far.
This was a late contender for me, but it’s easily one of my favorites. I absolutely loved The Stick of Truth. Besides the past two seasons or so, I’ve been a huge South Park fan since it started, and I’ll play anything Trey Parker and Matt Stone want to make. Not only is this superhero franchise spoof of a sequel incredibly hilarious, it tops the first in terms of its quick-yet-deep turn-based combat and aesthetic. They absolutely nailed the look and feel as if you’re in a South Park episode. I’m still plowing my way through, but it never lets up, you never know where it’s going, and you want to play more. I can’t stop laughing while I play it. There’s a fairly complex skill tree and party system. I also used Moses to heal my entire party during a fight with Italian chefs, but only after posing as strippers to extract information from drunk businessmen about missing cats. Even if you’re not too big on South Park, I still recommend checking this one out. It’s a good time.
Uncharted 4 was obviously the best possible scenario to end the Uncharted series, so when I heard they were making this, I was expecting just a little random side adventure. I always thought Chloe and Nadine deserved much more than what I thought they were getting, so I’m glad Naughty Dog proved me wrong by making it a full fledged Uncharted game. Uncharted The Lost Legacy might just damn well be right next to Uncharted 4 for my favorite Uncharted game. It’s the perfect length at about 10 hours, and has some uneblievably intense moments. One of my favorite Uncharted moments is the train sequence from Uncharted 2, and this one has a great callback to it. Chloe and Nadine’s back-and-forth was handled pretty well, and it made me love them even more as individual characters finally being featured in their own adventure. This isn’t just some side DLC, it’s right up there with the rest of the Uncharted series. And as a bonus, it’s definitely one of the best looking games I’ve ever seen. (Naughty Dog, duh)
I have waited for Cuphead since E3 2013 when it showed up in some sizzle reel on the Xbox stage. The idea of making a platformer completely handdrawn with a callback to the Disney animation of the 1930s was an insane undertaking, but holy shit did they nail it. Cuphead is mainly about boss fights. There’s platforming levels inbetween, but the main event are the bosses. Sure, Cuphead is the most difficult game I may have ever played. Sure, it makes me want to chuck my controller at the walls. But I never have stopped having fun, and it’s probably the most rewarding feeling every time you finally master a boss and defeat them. The animation is gorgeous, the soundtrack is phenomenal. I listen to it all the time. Cuphead was worth the wait, and at only $20 bucks, it’s an absolute bargain. If there’s one game you absolutely need to see this year, Cuphead is probably it. Don’t deal with the devil, you idiot.
Super Mario Odyssey is the exact Mario game I have wanted for years and years. There’s no (major) gimmick, the worlds are great, and the controls are super tight. There’s a whole lot of moons to find in the game (I think in the 800s?) and you’re rewarded pretty much anywhere you go on any of the amazing worlds. The game is only technically half over when you beat it, so I’m excited to go back and keep collecting moons to see the secret worlds I keep hearing so much about. The fan service is absolutely amazing. Whether it’s THAT MOMENT at the end of New Donk City, or THAT OTHER MOMENT after you beat the game, it made me smile super hard. Even my current outfit in the game is a MOMENT YOU NEED TO SEE. It’s charming, it’s good looking, and you can open it for a few minutes to search for a moon. The perfect Nintendo Switch game. Everybody has always said there will never be a better Mario game than Mario 64, but Super Mario Odyssey finally did it.
Horizon Zero Dawn is one of my favorite games I’ve played in a long time. The premise revolves around hundreds or even thousands of years after society collapsed and now giant robot dinosaurs roam the land. What happened to humans? Why are these robot dinosaurs here? What’s this weird bluetooth headset thing in my ear? It’s such an original premise, and at first it’s so absurd, but it absolutely delivers not only wrapping up the individual game nicely, but answering pretty much every question I had about the world I was in. It’s a weird thing to hunt these huge dangerous robots with bows and arrows and spears, but every combat situation felt new, and it never lets up. There’s tactics to take on pretty much every kind of creature, and the game is certainly no cakewalk. I died a lot, and it taught me how to handle each scenario a lot better. The main character Alloy is also written very well, and on top of everything going on in this world, her story is also great. There’s just all these little touches like finding a coffee mug with a name on it and the various tribes in the world refer to that name as one of the ancient gods, with this relic belonging to them. The world they created is absolutely breathtaking, and the included photo mode made for some killer shots that I kept stopping to take. Between exploring the giant world, side missions, and everything else there is to tackle, the world of Horizon Zero Dawn leaves you wanting more. It seems like we’ll probably get it, too.
I didn’t think I could ever love another Zelda game as much as I could those from my childhood, nostalgia goggles aside. Breath of the Wild was famously delayed for several years, and I didn’t think Nintendo could nail an open world game. In a year of chaos, I was happy to be proven wrong yet again.
The environment, the soundtrack, the worldbuilding, the physics. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the perfect game. It recaptures that sense of wonder and adventure in games that I have been looking to see for damn close to 20 years. The amount of freedom is unmatched, allowing you to beat the game however you choose, and frankly do whatever you want. There’s 120 puzzle shrines to find in the game. You don’t need to do them all. Hell, you don’t even need to fight the four main bosses in the game. The first objective you get is “Beat Ganon,” and it’s entirely up to you how you want to do that.
You don’t even have to solve puzzles traditionally. Maybe instead of connecting the giant metal blocks to conduct electricity, you just line up a bunch of swords to make an electric path. You are rewarded for “breaking the game” and thinking outside the box, and it’s all the more satisfying when you do it. Despite being all in this massive open world, every town feels different. Every town has its own culture, and doesn’t feel cookie cutter. Sometimes you’ll need to use a torch, and it’ll be raining, and you’ll be shit out of luck. As a recent tweet put it, the fact that the game is often antagonistic to what you need to accomplish is ultimately what makes it so unique. This open world isn’t here to help you, but it is here, so figure it out. There are STILL countless things I have done that were unexpected and put a smile on my face. Trying to figure out how to navigate a boat, and realizing I could cut a tree down to get a giant leaf and use that to push the wind in my direction. Just one of my many stories and examples of why this game makes me smile.
It has reignited my love for Nintendo games by itself, and has taken a place in my Top 3 games of all time. While Super Mario Odyssey finally beat out Mario 64, this one did the same to Ocarina of Time. It’s only fitting that Nintendo rekindled my love of the Nintendo 64 and its games by releasing an amazing new console with two perfect next-generation Nintendo games in the same calendar year.
The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild is the best Legend of Zelda game ever made, and one of the best video games ever made.